Southwest School Board Race Expands To Four Candidates
Curtis Johnson says he wants to draw more Southwest Minneapolis families back to the public schools.
For Lynnhurst resident and Washburn track coach Curtis Johnson—better known as Citizen Kanine—the decision to run for school board was a hard one to make—to hear him tell it, there's a tinge of Cincinatus to the story.
"I had a bunch of conversations with friends who are into education policy," he said in an interview with Patch. "They just kept pressuring me until I decided to go for it. (The school district is) one of those things that's so important to the city and to our quality of life."
Johnson joins Fulton resident Alex Phung and Kingfield residents Tracine Asbery and David Weingartner in the 2012 race for a new school board seat designed to represent Southwest Minneapolis. Johnson said he stands out from the field for his governance experience in business, nonproffit boards, and at his church, Bethlehem Lutheran.
"What we always had to do was look at our priorities," he said. "What are we doing and not doing, and where should our effort be?"
A school board member, he said, needed that kind of strategic planning ability to sort through controversial issues like the current debate over teacher evaluation without becoming beholden to either side.
"We need to find a good way to evaluate teachers and really grade and develop high-quality teachers," he said. "But it's also true we need to do the same with leaders in the school. It has to be a good work environment for teachers, too.
"Looking forward, he said wanted to push the district to try to draw back Southwest Minneapolis families who currently send their children to private schools like Breck or Benilde-St Margaret's.
"I wish there was a way to connect with those families, to gain their confidence," he said. "Getting them involved in the schools can go a long way to improving (every school)."